DIY faucet replacement: No, you don’t need a plumber’s help

Like many others, because of the Coronavirus I’ve spent the past eight weeks to work from home, try to teach my kids
and stared at everyone Home improvement projects I did not had time to pack. First on the list, replace an old two-handle faucet and replace it with a fancier one-hand faucet with a detachable spray nozzle.

Fortunately, modern plumbing and faucet designs have made changing faucets easier. It’s a quick day-to-day project that will make a huge difference to the look of your space, and you can save a lot of money by skipping the plumber and doing it yourself.

Here’s a full rundown of how you can do just that. Just note that the faucet I installed isn’t ready to go right out of the box (we’ve had it for a while) so your experience may vary.

See you later, two-handle faucet.

Chance Lane / CNET

Out with the old ones

Turn off your water first. You likely have two shut-off valves under your sink, one each for the hot and cold water supply lines. Turn off the water by turning these valves clockwise. You shouldn’t need a wrench to do this.

If there are no valves under the sink, you’ll need to follow the supply lines away from the faucet until you find a valve. You may turn off the water at the water heater (and the water heater bypass for cold) or at the main valve. In this case, leave all the taps on the bottom floor turned on to drain the water from the entire system.

After turning off the water, turn on the faucet you are changing to make sure the water is actually turned off: if the water continues to flow, you have a broken valve. Use a bucket and towel to remove any remaining water and remove the supply lines with an adjustable wrench. Use a pair of pointed pliers to stabilize the valve assembly as you loosen the water pipe connection. This will prevent the valve and line from twisting and damaging.

Once the valves are disconnected you will need to remove the old faucet assembly. Depending on the current configuration, it is held under the sink by one or more retaining nuts. These are sometimes difficult to access and you may need something called a pelvic key. If you’re lucky, a certain socket wrench may have come with the faucet. Once the retaining nuts are removed you should be able to remove the old faucet from the sink.


With the old faucet removed we can slide in the new one and start working to plug it in.

Chance Lane / CNET

In with the new

There are different configurations for faucets. There are many options for customization between the number of handles, the types of spray nozzles, and the even spacing of holes required. Before buying a new faucet, consider your layout, especially the current number and location of holes in your counter or sink. Sinks and countertops can be modified accordingly, but you need to do a little research before purchasing your new faucet.

You may need a basin wrench or special socket wrench that came with your faucet to turn the retaining nuts.

Chance Lane / CNET

First insert the bracket that fits between the counter / sink and the faucet. These often have a foam pad that creates a seal to prevent water from seeping under the faucet assembly. Some faucets may vary, but the faucet I installed required minimal assembly prior to installation.

Route the faucet assembly leads, followed by the threaded rods of the faucet, through the holes in your countertop or sink. Tighten the retaining nut with a wrench while working in the most comfortable position underneath (good luck).

If a socket wrench did not come with the faucet and the space is tight enough to require a basin wrench, take extra care not to damage the faucet’s water supply lines. It depends on the configuration of your particular faucet. However, if the water pipes are in the way of the retaining nut, it can be helpful to wrap them with nylon tape or other protective material beforehand. Damaged water pipes can cause a leak and all the chaos that comes with it. You do not want that.


Be careful when connecting your faucet to the water supply lines. If you do the job correctly, you can avoid leaks later.

Chance Lane / CNET

Seal the deal with strong connections

Now it’s time to connect the faucet’s water supply lines to the shut-off valve under the sink. For me, the water pipes were connected to the new faucet, but that’s not always the case. If you need to service the water pipes, it is recommended that you replace the hoses, even if the ones you already have are compatible. If these hoses wear out and begin to leak, problems with your hands can occur.

You should put a thin wrap of threaded Teflon tape clockwise (in the same direction that you turn the nut to tighten it) around the male threaded connections to lubricate the threads, which allows for a better seal. Hand-tighten the valve connections of the threaded nut. Then, hold the valve assembly in place with a pair of flat-nose pliers and tighten the connection with an adjustable wrench.

Slowly turn the water supply back on while checking for leaks. If the water is flowing normally and everything stays dry below, you’re done.


Once the new faucet is on, remove the aerator from the spray nozzle and let the water run for about a minute to clear dirt from your plumbing.

Chance Lane / CNET

Finish with a flush

At this point, it’s a good idea to rinse the plumbing to remove any residue left in the water pipes. To do this, remove the aerator from the tap tip and let the water run for about a minute. Sometimes a tool comes with the faucet to make it easier to remove the aerator. If you cannot remove the aerator, remove the entire nozzle head and let the water run a little.

And that’s it – you can cross that fancy new faucet installation off your to-do list and move on to something else. I could recommend a nice glass of water and a nap, provided the children cooperate.

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